Creative Writing Practice: Describing Art with 5-Senses Descriptions

Hi, everyone! I’m Ms Atifa, an English teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. Some of you might be familiar with 5-senses descriptions, and how they help to make your compositions more interesting.

For those who are not, let me explain briefly what it is. The 5-senses descriptions refer to how we can use the five senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch) to describe different moments in your writing in order to make it more engaging. Usually, you will use the 5-senses descriptions in your introduction when you are describing the setting of your story. However, these descriptions are not exclusive to the introduction, and can definitely be explored in other parts of your story too!

For a glimpse of how 5-senses descriptions look like, let’s compare these two examples:

A. I ate the Korean fried chicken. I was satisfied because it was delicious.

B. As I ate the Korean fried chicken, the savoury taste of soy sauce burst in my mouth. Grinning in satisfaction, I slowly chewed the tender, juicy meat.

As you can see, example B is more vivid as it engages the sense of taste. This allows the reader to easily visualise how appetising the chicken the writer is eating.

Using 5-senses descriptions helps the readers of your story imagine the scenario better; it is as if they are actually present and experiencing the moment you are writing about. One way you can incorporate 5-senses descriptions better is to imagine the moment you are describing as a painting or picture. How could you describe a moment in your story using 5-senses descriptions to make it as detailed as possible so that the reader can feel immersed in it?

To practise this, let’s take a look at three famous paintings in history. You might have seen some of these before!

For each of the paintings shown below, come up with two to three 5-senses descriptions. If you can come up with a sense that is different from what is suggested, that is perfectly fine (and kudos for being so creative)! For this practice, imagining yourself in the scenario shown in each painting would help.

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Describe this painting using the sense of sight and hearing. To guide you, think of these prompts:

  1. How can you describe the colours of the sky in the picture?
  2. What might you hear on a quiet night? (e.g. sounds of certain insects or animals)
  3. How can you describe the building in the painting?

Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

Describe this painting using the sense of sight and touch. To guide you, think of these prompts:

  1. How can you describe the woman’s appearance?
  2. What might the texture of her clothes feel like?
  3. How can you describe the landscape behind her?

Still Life with Cheese by Floris Claesz Van Dijck

Describe this painting using the sense of taste, smell and touch. To guide you, think of these prompts:

  1. What would you smell if you walked into a room with all this food?
  2. How would the different food in the painting feel in your hands?
  3. How would the different food in the painting taste?

I hope that you have fun with this practice, and I’d love to see your responses in the comments. Whenever you see a piece of art, you can now imagine how you could describe it in words to put your 5-senses description skills to the test. You can even practise 5-senses descriptions for any of your favourite artworks, or interesting pictures that you’ve chanced upon on social media! I hope you will have fun trying it out.

Bye for now!


With a variety of Primary 1 – Secondary 3 on-site class options over 5 centres (and online classes via Zoom!), there’s definitely something for everyone. Our thematic approach to spark interest and engage our students in discussion makes learning strategies for examinations fun and shows how learning English is relevant to the world around us.

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Ms Atifa

In her time teaching, she has incorporated elements of drama into her classes to engage her lower primary students. She tries her best to get to know all of her students and is always keen to find out each of their interests and hobbies. She believes that each student has personalised needs, and aims to make lessons fun and helpful for all of her students.

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